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Australia: Changing of import conditions of fresh cut flowers

As part of a systematic review of Australia’s import conditions, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has reviewed the import conditions for fresh cut flower and foliage imports from all countries. Analysis of interception data indicates a high detection rate of insect pests with consignments from some countries failing inspection more than 50% of the time. Frequently intercepted pests include thrips, aphids and mites. Of particular concern is the high number and frequency of thrips detected. Thrips can also carry plant viruses, many of which are quarantine pests as they are exotic to Australia and are of serious biosecurity concern.

Onshore fumigation with methyl bromide currently manages this risk but is not sustainable. The department is acting to reduce the high pest approach rate by implementing mandatory offshore measures.

What is changing?
The department will be implementing a mandatory requirement that all consignments of cut flowers and foliage imported into Australia are free of quarantine pests and that this is endorsed on a phytosanitary certificate from the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the exporting country. Pest freedom will be able to be achieved through either offshore treatment or through the use of a systems approach (a combination of pest control measures in production, transport and packing areas). Cut flowers and foliage will need to come in insect proof cartons, and any cut flowers and foliage that are propagatable will still need to be dipped in herbicide to prevent growth. Read more about the proposed changes.

The new import conditions will be published in the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) during November or December 2017. The department will confirm the exact implementation date in a follow up notice in the coming months.

All consignments imported under the new import conditions will be sampled and inspected by the department to verify freedom of live pests. If live pests are detected the consignment will be secured pending identification and assessment of the pest by an entomologist. Directions for methyl bromide fumigation will only be given for quarantine pests following this assessment.

The department will closely monitor imports after implementation to verify a reduction in quarantine pest detections at the border. If consignments continue to arrive with high numbers of quarantine pests, the department will work with exporting countries to investigate the causes and implement corrective actions. If these corrective actions do not lead to a significant reduction in quarantine pest detections, the department may consider the removal of either the systems approach or the treatment options from the country of export.

Further information
Enquiries regarding the proposed changes to import conditions and their implementation should be directed to Plant Import Operations Branch. Include “Changes to cut flower import conditions” in the subject line.
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